Be More Mack-Like

Of course, Mackenzie was always special to me; she was my funny little imp who daily filled my life with laughter and joy. Early on in her childhood, I recognized that she enjoyed the company of a small circle of adoring friends; I knew that the parents of her friends were crazy about her; and it was clear she was well-liked by many of her classmates, teammates, coaches and teachers. Yet until I lost her, I failed to fully comprehend the deep and lasting influence she made upon those who were lucky enough to know her. Watching nearly 600 people arrive at the memorial service in the Springfield High School gymnasium on October 12, 2014, I was overwhelmed by the number of mourners and comforted by the tremendous outpouring of love for my little girl. Despite living just twenty years, Mack made a lasting and deep imprint on more human hearts than most of us will with four times as many years to live.

Jack Stapleton, Mack’s high school golf coach and favorite teacher, closed his remarks at her memorial service by appealing to everyone assembled in that gym to be more “‘Mack-like,” by bringing joy to everything you do and becoming friends with everyone you meet in life.” There is no doubt in my aching heart that Mack lived life with the gusto of an exuberant ten-year-old, and her joyful approach to everything she did was infectious. There is also no doubt that even though Mack was somewhat shy around strangers, as soon as introductions were behind her, she scooped up people in those long arms and treated them with the same love and respect she would a long-lost friend.

Over the past three months, Jake’s entreaty has stuck with me; and I have thought quite a lot about what I can do in my own life to be more “Mack-like.” I do not generally make New Year’s resolutions, but as I face 2015 without Mack—one of my most important inspirations—I believe attempting to adopt for myself some of her best qualities will bring me some comfort. As well, emulating her will honor her life and help me to be a better person.

And so, in 2015, I promise to:

  1. Enjoy life: Mack set the bar very high on joy, but I am going to try my damnedest to make her proud. Mack lived in the moment, she did not let worries or the future interfere with the people, events or food staring her right in her freckled face. With Mack as my inspiration and the practice of some yoga, I am going to learn to delight in simple, silly pleasures, like a plate of piping-hot fried rice, a quiet conversation with a friend or an episode of a stupid sit-com.
  2. Be a good friend: I am likely incapable of competing with Mack for number of “best” friends, but I am going to be a better friend. I am going to work to be kinder, more patient and less judgmental; and I am going to look for opportunities to make new friends.
  3. Try something new: Mack was adventurous, always setting fear and doubt aside. When she decided to throw the discus and compete in high jump in middle school track, I was in awe of her willingness to take on two such new and foreign activities, both well outside of her team-sport comfort zone. This year I am going to try something new and foreign that will force me to step outside of my own comfort zone.
  4. Relax: Mack frequently scolded me for being too serious, so I am going to try to relax and see humor in things that previously would have angered or annoyed me. One time in our kitchen in Springfield, Mack knocked a carton of eggs off the counter. Two of the eggs were intact, but the others were annihilated on the ceramic tile floor. Both of us gasped, so our reactions started out the same way. However, at the very second that I started screaming that she should have been more careful, she began laughing, uncontrollably, commenting on how funny it was that the eggs on the floor looked like eggs cooked three ways: hard-boiled, fried and scrambled. I’ll need both Mack and the yoga for this one; but I assure you, the next time eggs fall off my counter, I’m going to laugh instead of yell.
  5. Laugh: Mack was so much fun; she laughed, chortled, snorted, giggled and guffawed constantly. She knew better than most that laughter is a wise tonic. I am dedicated most singularly to this final “resolution.” I will find humor wherever I can. I will laugh as often as I am capable.

In other words, I promise to be more “Mack-like.”

In life, Mack was an inspiration to me, and facing all of 2015 without her is going to be a monumental struggle. But I was one of the lucky people in the world upon whose heart she made a lasting and deep imprint. Mack will forever live in my heart, memories of her will always occupy my mind, and I am going to keep her perched upon my shoulder. From that vantage point, she will continue to inspire me every day to be more “Mack-like.” To enjoy life’s simple pleasures with the enthusiasm of a child. To be a good friend. To set fear aside and try new things. To be unflappable. And most of all, to laugh. Laugh. Laugh. And laugh some more.

on my shoulder

Enjoy life…


Be a being a good friend…

being a friend

Try something new…




And, laugh…


7 thoughts on “Be More Mack-Like

  1. Thanks for those inspiring words Especially today I was up early in a quiet house and tried to work but could only think of Mack So I’m smiling through my tears literally You are an inspiration to all of us who can’t imagine life without Mack Dianne

    Sent from my iPhone



  2. Stacy, you my sweet daughter are an inspiration to me as well as a blessing. Mackenzie had such a big heart. I too will try and be more Mack like.


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